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UConn police charge Mystic man with altering grades

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University of Connecticut police at Avery Point arrested a Mystic man Monday who they say stole his professor's credentials to alter his and his classmates' grades in December.  

Omar Hassan Faraj, 18, of 236 Pumpkin Hill Road, Mystic, was charged on a warrant with two counts of second-degree forgery and two counts of third-degree computer crime when he turned himself in to police Monday, police said.

The warrant for Faraj's arrest stemmed from two incidents — one on Dec. 21 and another on Dec. 25 — in which Faraj allegedly used a UConn faculty member's credentials to change grades on the computer system at the Avery Point campus in Groton.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit written by Officer Joseph Bennett, Faraj changed the letter grades of nine students — including himself — who took general chemistry with professor Young-Chan Son last semester.

Faraj, Bennett said, learned his professor's password by visiting him over a four- to five-week period and watching him type it in.

When he first used Son's account to log into the university's Peoplesoft system Dec. 21, the affidavit states, Faraj changed his own grade from a C to an A- and moved two other students' grades a half step up.

All three changes triggered an automatic email to Son from gradechange@uconn.edu. Son alerted university officials as soon as he realized what had happened.

Those investigating the case discovered that the IP address that logged into Son's account just before the changes occurred was registered out of Mystic, according to the affidavit.

That same IP address was used later Dec. 21 to log into the Peoplesoft account belonging to Faraj.

On Dec. 25, Son received six more grade-change emails.

This time, Faraj allegedly gave two students better grades than they'd earned while dropping four students' grades down half of a letter grade or more.

In one instance, he changed a student's grade from an F to a B+.

The IP address used Dec. 25 to enter Son's account was registered out of Saudi Arabia, according to the affidavit. Police later learned Faraj visited his family in Saudi Arabia for a period of time over winter break.

Police did not say whether they are investigating other students.

Faraj has since been dismissed from UConn, according to the affidavit.

He is out on a $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in New London Superior Court on March 21.

l.boyle@theday.com

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